Key considerations of public sector union leaders’ support for presidential candidate do not jive with clarifications put out by Law Minister.
It has been revealed that 75 percent of 61 NTUC-affiliated unions and associations have endorsed Tony Tan, while the remaining 25 percent have decided to remain neutral.
Among those remaining neutral are the aerospace and aviation cluster, as well as the public sector unions, such as HDB, IRAS and PUB that felt it was inappropriate for its employees to endorse anyone in particular.
However, NTUC chief Lim Swee Say outlined the union leaders’ three key considerations for supporting a candidate: A president that “could enhance Singapore’s global standing, set the right tone for the future economy” and “able to put workers’ interest first”.
These key considerations, however, appears to run counter to recent clarifications made by the Law Minister to put straight “some confusion over what the President can and cannot do”.
In the statement put out by the Law Minister in June this year, it stated in no uncertain terms that “National policies and running the Government are the responsibility of the Prime Minister and Cabinet” and this “is so for all policies, whether they concern security and defence, immigration and population, or housing and social safety nets”.
The ability for the president of Singapore to meet the key considerations of union leaders, is therefore, in doubt.
On top of that, the Law Minister’s clarification stated that the Elected President “can veto or block Government actions in specified areas, but he has no role to advance his own policy agenda”.
Strangely, the unions in the Labour movement who have backed Tony Tan “say they want a President who can boost Singapore’s international standing to attract foreign investment“.
It remains to be seen what the true presidential powers, or the lack of, can be after Aug. 27.